Read: Section 3, “A Quiet Space to Pray for Life’s Stresses,” Quiet Spaces: Prayer Interludes for Women, pages 85-117.

We are all beset by stressors on every side. We usually think of stressors as negative—people, places, events, situations, or things in our lives— difficult people, uncomfortable places, dreaded events, scary situations, bad things. However, stressors aren’t necessarily bad—for example, a wedding, full of joy and excitement, can be stressful. An upcoming holiday, getting a new haircut, buying a car—anything that causes us to react is a stressor.

If we react with anticipation, excitement, pleasure, happiness, or even a little tingle of nervousness, we are reacting positively, and that stressor is what adds spice to our lives. It tells us that we are alive and participating in our environment.

However, if we react negatively with things like fear, worry, anger, denial, revenge, withdrawal, passivity, tantrums, overindulgence, then that stressor is taking away our life, even threatening our life. Too much negative reaction to stressors, and we find ourselves battling high blood pressure, heart conditions, stomach ailments, and a host of other stress-related diseases.

In short, stress can kill us. As someone once said to me, “Why pray when you can take pills and worry?”

That’s the crux of the issue. As Christians, we have a positive answer to every stressor, yet we often fail to use it. Is there a way to bypass these negative reactions and move directly to prayer?

My mother taught me a quick way to react when faced with something that is causing me stress. She told me to picture myself in the palm of God’s hand. All that happens to me comes to me through God’s fingers. God knows all the stressors in my life. If God feels that I cannot handle a particular stressor, God’s fingers will gently close over me and keep me safe. In the meantime, no matter what is happening, I remain in the palm of God’s hand.

When faced with a stressor, I hold out my hand and remember this analogy. Picturing myself in God’s palm, I can cope with whatever is happening in my life because I know that God holds me close. I can lift my stressor to the throne of the Almighty and trust that God will sustain and keep me in the midst of the turbulence.